The beauty of paradox : Mansfield Park and Christianity

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Donna Snider Love (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
James E. Evans

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to explain why Jane Austen, the creator of Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, presented the readers of Mansfield Park with so seemingly unattractive a heroine as Fanny Price. Rather than being the failure many critics perceive, Fanny is a relatively successful portrayal of a Christian heroine--one who embodies the paradoxes of Christianity. Fanny is the mourner, the meek, the poor in spirit, spoken of in the Beatitudes. One significant Christian tradition, the paradox of exterior beauty masking inner corruption, is illustrated admirably by Austen in her portrayal of Mary and Henry Crawford, as well as in the novels and minor works which preceded Mansfield Park. Because good, conversely, is not always outwardly attractive, Fanny and Edmund Bertram are characterized as stiff, dry and uncomfortable people. Two complementary themes in the Gospels which also underlie Mansfield Park are the complete dependence on God which leads to surrender of concern for worldly security, and the concern for others rather than for self. Austen illustrates that the worldly wisdom of self-seeking is ultimately destructive and that a life of self-sacrifice is the only means of salvation. She shows restraint to be true freedom, since it is only in the fetters of Christ that man escapes the bondage of sin.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1977
Austen, Jane, $d 1775-1817 $x Criticism and interpretation
Austen, Jane, $d 1775-1817. $t Mansfield Park
Austen, Jane, $d 1775-1817 $x Characters $x Fanny Price
Price, Fanny (Fictitious character)

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